Horror games have always intrigued me. Oftentimes the setting and story really draw me in and make me want to play because of how outlandish and uncomfortable they’re made to be. Playing with the fears of players can really make for an enticing product. However, horror games have never really emotionally affected me. I usually play them to become immersed and lost in an unsettling environment and to play out the story and see what insanity ensues, but I rarely get genuinely frightened by them. However, two games have done so. The first is Alien: Isolation,and it only did slightly due to the actual feeling of the Xenomorph chasing you. The other game is one that took the internet by storm back in 2010 and 2011 by the name of Amnesia: The Dark Descent by Frictional Games. Known for the Penumbra horror series, these guys are no strangers to the genre. The Dark Descent genuinely scared me and connected with me, and so Frictional’s new game SOMA has me greatly hoping for that same feeling.
Starting development right after the release of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Frictional’s cofounders Thomas Grip and Jens Nilsson, decided “on a whim” to set the game underwater. The idea of the unknown that is the ocean gave them a starting idea for how to bring an unknown fear to players. So many creatures that are both hostile and unknown seemed perfect for what they were doing. The game was formally teased to the public in 2013, and very limited information has been released since. Only a couple of trailers and a handful of screenshots have been shown, and I definitely like it that way. A horror game is most effective when you know very little about it going in, and so all of the secrets are making me anticipate the game even more.
SOMA takes place in the near future at the bottom of an ocean, focusing around the underwater research station named the PATHOS-2. Not much has been said about the game, but from what has been revealed, communication on the station has stopped and strange things start to happen. Machines have started to act more human, and supposedly “alien constructions have started to interfere with routine.” This is a situation I’m fully excited for. The media isn’t a stranger to showing machines coming to life and taking over. However, the isolation that is the deep blue, as well as the isolation these researchers are being put into in the events of the game, both sound extremely enticing and genuinely scary.
There isn’t much else I can talk about, unfortunately. The game is supposedly being polished to be released soon, but there’s no solid release date for the game. It’s planned for a release this year on PC and PS4. Horror games rarely get me this excited, but the Bioshock feel that I get from it, along with the past fear that Frictional has given me, has me looking forward to SOMA as my most anticipated atmospheric game this year so far.